[Here be SPOILERS!!!]
As a freshly minted Tilda Swinton fan, I’ve been keeping a keen eye out for copies of her other films… and this year the BBC was nice enough to show The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Excessively Long Title (2005) as part of their festive programming. It should go without saying that she was a fantastic choice for the role of ‘Jadis the White Witch’, bringing an otherworldly allure to her early “seduction” scene with Edmund, and a fierce strength to her later battle scene with Peter. She also managed to score some pretty great costumes again, so yay for her! Sadly, despite my slight fetish for women wearing (faux) fur, I still couldn’t quite warm to her character (no pun intended). Her Wikipedia page describes Jadis as “a cunning strategist”, but I would strongly disagree. Obviously her actions are largely determined by the demands of the plot… she can’t kill Edmund as soon as she finds him, because that would spoil the story, and disturb a lot of young viewers… but it seems insane for her to encourage him to bring the rest of his family to Narnia, when the prophecy clearly states that their arrival in the land heralds her death. Take him back to your castle, let him sit on a throne beside you, and keep him sweet with Turkish Delight… just don’t shove him away in a cold dungeon and torture him, so that he has every reason in the world to want to see your predestined demise come to pass! Even when it came to the big battle, which she must have known was coming for a couple of decades at least, her big “strategy” was to have her entire army run towards the enemy in a straight line and hope for the best. Cunning! And she didn’t even take the opportunity to sucker punch Peter when they were both stood there agog at Aslan’s arrival. Tch! It’s really a shame she turned out to be so stupid and crazy with the evil, because when she was on her best behaviour she seemed far more fun than a stinky CGI lion!
I attended a Church of England school back in the day, so the Narnia books were required reading for us… and I find it fascinating that there’s been so much debate over just how “Christian” or “Pagan” the books really are. My observation, based purely on my recent viewing of the first movie, would be that Lewis clearly shows that our human world trumps the fantasy world of Narnia (why else would well-trained and experienced Narnian warriors yield control of their army to a bunch of snotty human brats who’ve never swung a sword before in their lives?), therefore Jesus Christ would still be considered “The King of Kings” and vastly superior to Aslan. This reminds me of something I read in the Bhagavad Gita, which suggested that all gods are divine, but some are more divine (and therefore closer to the source) than others… theoretically there’s no big sin in worshipping a “lesser god”, since they’re all aspects of the supreme divine power anyway, and it will still get you a couple of steps closer to your final reward… it just won’t get you the whole way there. Apparently Liam Neeson got into a bit of hot water recently, by suggesting that Aslan could be an incarnation of Buddha, but I think that might be stretching it a bit! I don’t mind a little “Politically Correct” revisionism from time to time (and would love to have a crack at a version of Wardrobe that made Jadis the heroine/victim), but the whole sacrifice/resurrection thing seems like a pretty big hint that he’s more in the Jesus-y mould, doesn’t it? Not that Jesus ever bit anyone’s face off, as far as I recall… but never mind. As for the “Paganism” charge, I really haven’t read the books recently enough to be able to comment. There is something slightly perverse about a story that presents a cloven-footed kiddie-snatcher as a sympathetic character… though I don’t necessarily mean “perverse” as a pejorative.
[Disclaimer: I don’t normally eat much sugar, so I’m on a bit of a seasonal biscuit-buzz at the moment… hopefully some of the above made sense?]